A Real Christmas Tree

On my side of the family we’ve always had an artificial tree, in fact we’ve had the same one for as long as I can remember. Lee’s family on the other hand gets a real Christmas tree every year. Upon learning that I had never had a real Christmas tree, Lee decided there was simply no other possibility than using a real tree for our first Christmas together in our new-to-us home.

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I was really excited about that! Traditions are something I absolutely love about this time of year. But exploring new things and creating new traditions together with Lee is something I love even more.

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I wish we had the time to go to a tree farm to select our tree and cut it down ourselves after taking a few pictures all the while sipping on hot chocolate but that wasn’t in the cards for us this year.

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In truth, we had no idea if there were any tree farms near us, our schedules don’t give us much daylight hours together so cute pictures of a tree farm adventure were less than likely to happen, and with mid-December creeping up quickly, we decided, to drop the picture-perfect tree cutting adventure and simply pick our tree together from the stack in the parking lot of our grocery store, at 8PM on Wednesday night.

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And it was still just as magical! We were together, picking a tree for our very first Christmas in our home. We tried to find one that seemed somewhat straight, about 6-7′ high and not too wide so it could fit in the spot we had prepared for it in our living room.

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It is with much excitement, that we pulled out the base (bought on clearance after last Christmas) from storage, cut the bottom of the trunk a few inches shorter, screwed and leveled our tree, cut the meshing and let it spread before trimming it slightly and then vacuumed and vacuumed again!

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Now we are only two days in with our real tree and we haven’t even hung a single light or decoration in it yet, so it’s hard to say if we’ll go this route again next year, but so far I am loving it. And I think the cats agree, especially Tux-Edo. Plus, our entire living room smells of fresh Balsam, a very Christmas-y smell indeed.

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Which do you prefer: a real or an artificial Christmas tree? Do do you ever go from one to the other year after year or never change? What made you decide to go with one rather than the other?

Checking things off

Lee’s brother and his girlfriend are arriving tonight for a short visit before the holidays. They will stay until Sunday. And then just before we ring in the new year, a friend of ours will be temporarily moving in to our rarely used basement guest bedroom. Needless to say, with our basement still untouched, we had lots to do to prepare for their arrival. Nothing like a deadline to have us checking things off the house to-do list!

We made a list in order of priorities of everything we wanted and needed to do before their arrival and I think we succeeded at checking most of them off the list. Here’s what we accomplished:

  • We finally ordered and installed the moldings in our living room (we had ran out of casing moldings from our initial order back in May and simply never got around to ordering more until last week) and wow, what a difference it makes. We are definitely kicking ourselves in the butt for not having gotten this done sooner;
  • Got up in the attic and added the Durovents which will ensure proper air circulation from our soffits to the inside of the attic and prevent our current and future extra attic insulation from falling into the soffits and blocking the air circulation. AudreeLeeBlog - Checking Things Off 01While we were up there, we also replaced our bathroom vent pipe as the old one was all bent out of shape and barely held in place with tape which cause all the humidity from our showers to be released into our attic rather than outside (which could have caused lots of issues with mold down the road). AudreeLeeBlog - Checking Things Off 02
  • Fixed the bathroom basement guest bedroom door handles as both were slightly misaligned and not latching properly;
  • Ordered brand new front and side doors. We realized during the fall that the wood around our front hadn’t been properly sealed in the past and was rotten. Even the door itself was starting to rot. A new door with a new frame was definitely needed. AudreeLeeBlog - Checking Things Off 03Then, with the colder weather, we realized the side door’s whether strip was damaged and not creating a tight seal around our door to prevent cold from coming in/heat from getting out as it should. This could have been solved by simply replacing the strip itself but as we knew we had to replace the front one, we decided to replace both of them at the same time and upgrade their looks. It took us a while to decide which color and which look we wanted for our doors but we finally decided to go with black (on the outside, the inside will remain white) and a flush glass door to let tons of natural light in but sandblasted in order to keep our privacy without having to add blinds or curtains. AudreeLeeBlog - Checking Things Off 04We should receive them by the end of this week, but will wait for her brother and his girlfriend to leave before installing them.
  • Then we got my dad to help us cover the top of our half wall using two cheap 2″ x 6″ dimensional lumber but making then look custom. He notched a grove in the wood so that it would sit astride the half wall (our pieces of wood looked like an upside down “U”) rather than just be on top of it then used a router along the top edges to make it look much more fancier and not at all like dimensional lumber. AudreeLeeBlog - Checking Things Off 05The pieces were already quite snug around the wall so we knew it wouldn’t move and simply nailed it using finishing nails  for good measure. We used wood filler to fill the holes and imperfections. AudreeLeeBlog - Checking Things Off 06Now we just have to stain and varnish it but we will wait a little as to not intoxicate our guests with stain fumes immediately upon their arrival.
  • My brother cut down the dead tree in our backyard.
  • Finally, we did a massive clean up of our basement which still had many unpacked boxes along with a variety of leftover construction materials and a crazy pile of tools. It had pretty much been our dumping ground for the last few months and was in a horrible state. Needless to say a few bags got tossed to the curb, a lot of boxes made it to our recycling bin, a extra full SUV load got donated and some stuff even got sold on kijiji putting 242$ back into our pockets! And the best part is, we still have a small pile of stuff to be put up for sale as well as a pile of items which need to be returned to the store (bought for the renovation but never ended up used), so more money will be making its way back into our wallets. This may sound like a simple job but it took about 2 days of our time.

This list of course didn’t include the  cleaning, grocery shopping, bed sheet changing, and other “normal” preparations for out of town guests.

Speaking of lists, I just went back to our initial list which we posted just days after getting the keys to our new-to-us home and crossed off all the thing we did. It is crazy looking back at those before pictures and seeing all the work we did! We only have a few things left to do from that list:

  • Adding a few inches of insulation in the attic;
  • Replacing the thermostat in the master bedroom;
  • Replacing the thermostat in the second bedroom;
  • Change the closet door and handle in our front entrance/living room;
  • Replace the old outlets and the thermostat in the front entrance/living room;
  • Replace the thermostat in the dinning room;
  • Add backsplash to our kitchen;
  • Replace the thermostat in the kitchen;
  • Add a door to the bathroom linen closet;
  • Replace the thermostat in the bathroom;
  • Change the stair covering and paint the stringers white (which we are saving to do at the same time as the basement renovation).

Not bad considering 6 out of those 11 are thermostat replacements which we will do all at once in the next few weeks.

What about you? Did you check anything off your house to-do list lately?

December

Wow, today is already December 1st! It feels like November just flew by!

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Our December is shaping up to be quite the busy month already… We have yet to put up our tree, hopefully we’ll be able to do that over the weekend. Luckily, though, we are almost done with Christmas gift shopping so we’ll be able to avoid most of the crowds. Let’s just cross our finger that we will have time to complete all the projects we want to do before the end of the year (:

What about you, are you ready for the holidays? Is your tree up? Your house decorated?